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IFRC receives sanctions waiver for assistance to N.K.'s anti-virus fight

North Korea 10:17 February 25, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 25 (Yonhap) -- The United Nations has granted a sanctions waiver for the International Red Cross's plan to help North Korea prevent the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) received the exemptions for its planned provision of medical devices and testing kits necessary to the North, the organization said in a press release.

"The potential for an outbreak of COVID-19 in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea poses a threat to millions of people who are already in need of humanitarian assistance," it said, using the North's official name.

"We know that there is urgent need of personal protective gear and testing kits, items vital to prepare for a possible outbreak," it added.

The IFRC, which runs an office in Pyongyang, earlier requested the waiver, saying that it wants to provide such things as protective suits, goggles, test kits and thermometers to the North.

North Korea has claimed there have been no cases of coronavirus infection on its soil, but concerns are growing that it could be more vulnerable to the highly contagious virus as it lacks key medical supplies to diagnose and treat infected people.

International assistance groups have been calling for sanctions exemptions to make it easier to provide necessary aid to the North in its fight against the virus.

The United States has voiced concerns about the vulnerability of North Korean people, stressing its support for aid agencies seeking to help contain the spread of the deadly virus in the communist state.

Humanitarian activities in North Korea are not banned under global sanctions imposed against its regime for its nuclear and missile provocations, but related materials are subject to sanctions waivers.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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